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Sharpening san mai blades

Sun Jun 09, 2013 1:10 am

I have very much interest in buying a san mai gyuto. I heard from a friend(has a hiromoto) thought that after continuous sharpening, it has gotten to the cladding and just doesn't have as good an edge anymore. I was thinking is this the downfall of san mai eventually? Should I just get a knife made of one steel? Maybe thinning the knife when it reaches this point? I am very curious.

Re: Sharpening san mai blades

Sun Jun 09, 2013 2:54 am

If he has reached the cladding , the edge will be very obtuse. Not surprised he feels it doesn't cut so well any more.

What I do every three or four times I sharpen a knife is sharpen at a much much lower angle then usual to thin the blade behind the primary edge. Once I've done that, I go ahead and sharpen at whatever my normal angle is for the knife.

Doing this will also grind back the cladding in the process.

Re: Sharpening san mai blades

Sun Jun 09, 2013 2:55 am

Thinning should be the answer, and it should have been done long before the point where the cladding met the edge. BTW, monosteel knives must be thinned to preserve performance, as well.

Re: Sharpening san mai blades

Sun Jun 09, 2013 3:43 am

Ok, thanks so much for clearing that up. I had a hunch that thinning was the answer, problem though is that I never thinned a knife before. Let alone one of my really nice knives. I guess I have to go down that road at some point.

Re: Sharpening san mai blades

Sun Jun 09, 2013 12:53 pm

When you thin, expect to get some scuffing on the softer cladding. If this bothers you, polish it out with MicroMesh pads. Amazon carries them:

http://www.amazon.com/Micro-Mesh-Soft-T ... =micromesh

Re: Sharpening san mai blades

Sun Jun 09, 2013 8:00 pm

You could always have someone do it for you in the meantime while you learn on cheaper blades!

Re: Sharpening san mai blades

Mon Jun 10, 2013 4:21 am

The Micro Mesh pads work well, but they aren't really aggressive on steel. Micro Mesh does make a series of papers to use on Aluminum to polish it that may work out better; the MM pads listed are more for woods/plastics. They work, but not as well as the other series does. The cladding is softer and works easier than the harder core steel, so the scratches in the core steel may not come out as easily. I would use regular sandpaper to around 600-800 grit or so with a Cork block or rubber sanding block as a backer and then use ScotchBrite pads (Maroon, Green, Grey) to give the blade a nice satin finish.

Re: Sharpening san mai blades

Mon Jun 10, 2013 12:52 pm

+1 on the 3M ScotchBrite pads. The commercial line of pads for metal are probably the ones to go for rather than the kitchen or woodworking ones. Even among the "maroon" pads or what have you, there is some variation in effective grit and scratch pattern, but maroon or finer works well for me. The maroon leaves a very fine "brushed" or "haze" finish.

Here's a link to one chart I've found handy http://academic.evergreen.edu/projects/ ... finish.pdf
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